What’s in Your Report
This includes your name, address, full or partial Social Security number, and date of birth. It’s not uncommon for credit bureaus to mix up people with the same name or similar ones, so it’s crucial to check this information for accuracy.
Your report might include your current and/or past employers if you put their name(s) on loan application(s). It won’t include your income or how long you worked there and your employment will never factor into your credit score so there’s no need to update it, according to Experian.
Unpaid Child Support
Delinquent child support payments can appear in a credit report if the delinquency is reported by the state agency.
These can be hard inquiries by lenders after you apply for credit, or soft inquiries, which include periodic reviews by current lenders, pre-screening inquiries by prospective lenders, and your own requests. Hard inquiries may affect your credit score; soft inquiries do not.
This is the largest and most important part. It consists of payment information on open and closed accounts including credit cards and home, car, and student loans.
It will show whether you are the account owner (including for loans you co-signed), a joint owner with another person, or an authorized user. Make sure you note the difference and that it’s reported correctly.
Depending on the type of account, it might show your required and actual payments, terms, current and high balance, credit limit, and whether you paid on time or were late, and if so, how late. Most lenders do not start reporting payments as delinquent until they are 30 or more days past due.
One exception: Federally guaranteed student loans are typically not reported as delinquent until they become 90 days late. Private student loans may be reported delinquent sooner, according to Eric Ellman, senior vice president with the Consumer Data Industry Association, a trade group for the consumer reporting industry. When a student loan is in deferment or forbearance, no payments are due, but the debt may still show up on your report. Even if you make a single payment, your student loans may show up as separate accounts for each semester.
Credit information comes from your lenders, but not all lenders report to any or all three bureaus, so it’s important to check all three reports for accuracy.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says consumers should look out for and correct errors such as:
- incorrect accounts resulting from identity theft;
- closed accounts reported as open;
- on-time payments reported as late or delinquent;
- accounts on which you are reported as an owner when you are just an authorized user;
- incorrect balances or credit limits;
- and the same debt listed more than once, possibly with different names.
What’s (Usually) Not in Your Credit Report
Money you owe to entities other than lenders—such as utility or telecom companies, doctors, or hospitals—generally do not show up on your credit report unless they have been turned over to a collection agency and the agency reports them.
Certain debts obtained from public records previously appeared on credit reports, but they were removed in 2017 and 2018. These include tax liens, civil judgments, and unpaid library fines and traffic tickets. Bankruptcies, which show up in public records, still appear and are a “major red flag,” Hao says.
These do not show up on credit reports, and, since civil judgments no longer appear, if the landlord were to sue for unpaid lease amounts, that would not appear on the credit report either, Ellman says. However, evictions can show up on tenant-screening reports that landlords often obtain when someone applies for a rental.
Buy Now, Pay Later Loans
This new, fast-growing type of loan lets buyers pay for purchases in installments, often in four equal payments every two weeks. There is usually no interest or late fee if the buyer pays on time. Some longer-term Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) loans do charge interest and fees.
Most BNPL lenders do not report loans to the credit bureaus. If they do report loans, the three bureaus treat them differently.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has urged the credit bureaus and BNPL lenders to come up with a consistent format for reporting these loans but so far they haven’t.